Before all micro-transaction hell broke loose across the genre, there was a little shooter set during The Great War that stood firm on the podium.
Released before we were blessed with David Fincher’s Mindhunter series on Netflix and before we witnessed EA’s catastrophic downfall with Star Wars: Battlefront II, the holiday season of 2016 graced us with something rather special.
On October 21, 2016, Battlefield 1 deployed itself onto shop shelves, digital storefronts and through people’s letterboxes with full force. After an exceptional response following the announcement trailer, Battlefield 1 was set on becoming a big success for DICE and EA. The main competition being Call of Duty’s Infinite Warfare which failed to rally as much spark of excitement (but still performed relatively well in the first week of sales), driving a significant amount of hype and actual measurable sales – reaching approximately 3.46 million copies sold on consoles within the first week.
We’re now 14 months into Battlefield 1’s lifetime. We’re halfway through the dispatch of the season pass’s third (of four) packs. 80,000 people are still playing the game on a regular basis. There’s no sign of letting up. Battlefield 1 is nothing short of a success, which is probably why I still find myself drawn to it despite having new games with under 10 hours of play waiting patiently for me on the side.
I got LA Noire and Dead Island Definitive Edition recently, dabbling here and there for some hours before the craving for intense FPS action began to emerge. Don’t get me wrong, I adore LA Noire and have plenty of skull-smashing fun with Dead Island, but for me, holding the frontline with a bolt-action rifle at my side and grenade primed just feels all too familiar. But familiar in a good way. In a way that your favourite sweatshirt fits snuggly, not too tight or too loose. Battlefield 1 challenges me in a fair way that doesn’t leave me cussing at strangers but respecting and being impressed with the person who killed me with a headshot 300 metres across the map. I laugh when I get impaled by a lance-wielding horseman, I don’t cry and rage quit, a behaviour that seems all too common in other FPS multiplayer games.
That’s not all; Battlefield is notorious for its incredible destructible environments (Levelution, people), player-controlled vehicles, higher amount of players in matches and epic sprawling maps packed with immersive detail and intense atmospheres. Something you don’t find in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, nor the latest WW2 instalment. It’s an age-old battle between the two franchises. I remember when I bought an Xbox Magazine several years ago how it was packed with ‘Team Battlefield” and “Team CoD” freebie badges and stickers. It all seems a bit immature these days, but back then, during a time when I played every Call of Duty instalment, I had already made up my mind. I am Team Battlefield.
My older brother plays Battlefield 1, he doesn’t get much time to play anything, but when he does he goes straight to Battlefield 1. Why? Because it’s intense, set during an interesting period (although slightly fantasised in the game) and it’s fun. Although, he does have one problem with the game, and that’s the interesting season pass model. Separating new map releases across a couple of months, the model arguably ensures that players hang around for a longer time, so there aren’t significant spikes in player count. In contrast to traditional season passes, which would release all maps and content in one swoop, Battlefield 1’s season pass has been releasing one or two maps, including new weapons and such, almost a month before the remainder of content is released.
I still can’t tell if I like it or not. I think I do. Being able to demo new features before the final release almost feels like early access; it also incites the feeling of getting more bang for your buck, giving paid content a longer lifetime than a regular flash in the pan. Premium players are encouraged to play new maps thoroughly, which means I never felt like I missed anything that was released. The fact that I’ve put 200 plus hours into the game already justifies the price I paid for the season pass. Of course, everything has changed since then…
We’re now 14 months into Battlefield 1’s lifetime. We’re halfway through the dispatch of the season pass’s third (of four) packs. 80,000 people are still playing the game on a regular basis. There’s no sign of letting up.
EA and DICE have at the time of writing scrapped season passes for free seasonal content, as first demonstrated in Star Wars: Battlefront II. We all know how that went. It’s almost concrete to assume that EA intended to make lost money from micro-transactions, however, that plan got completely ripped to shreds by fans, press and just about everyone across the globe, apparently. It didn’t go well, and as mentioned in my last post, the game has been left fundamentally broken.
Battlefield 1 is the last true example of an FPS done right. Ok, the season pass is kinda expensive, yes it does dilute the player base somewhat, but overall the game worked. Will the next entry into the Battlefield series feature a return to old season pass roots? Unlikely. If it attempts the free seasonal content model it needs to get it right – no pay-to-win controversy, please. It really destroyed a game I had the highest hopes for, and I don’t want to see Battlefield fall victim to the EA money-making machine. They can make money from micro-transactions, a plethora of game do it, that’s no problem. They just have to do it right.